Dold, Clark Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Combat Heroin Epidemic

U.S. Heroin Deaths Have Quadrupled in Less Than Decade

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Congressman Robert Dold (IL-10), co-chair of the Illinois Suburban Anti-Heroin Task Force, today introduced bipartisan legislation with U.S. Congresswoman Katherine Clark (MA-5) that will increase access to the life-saving antidote naloxone throughout the United States.  The bill, Lali’s Law, is named after Alex Laliberte, a young man from Illinois's Tenth Congressional District who passed away from a drug overdose.  

"As a co-chair of the Suburban Anti-Heroin Task Force in Illinois, I’ve seen the unimaginable suffering that heroin has brought onto families, but I still can’t even begin to fathom the pain of losing one of my children to a drug overdose," Rep. Dold said. "Lali’s Law amplifies Alex’s heartbreaking story in the United States Congress.  It is my hope that through this bipartisan bill, Alex’s lasting legacy will include helping countless people get a second chance at recovery and saving their families from unbearable heartbreak.  Working together we can truly save lives."

Heroin deaths have quadrupled in the United States in less than a decade.  Naloxone, however, has proven to be hugely successful as a life-saving antidote.  When used, naloxone helps restore breathing that has been stopped by an overdose.  With increased access, the World Health Organization predicts naloxone could save another 20,000 lives every year.  

“Across Massachusetts and the nation, too many parents are desperately trying to save their child from the opioid crisis’ deadly grip,” Rep. Clark said. “Lali’s Law is a commonsense bill that will save lives. I hope Congress will quickly act on this bill and other reforms to end the scourge of this deadly public health crisis.”  

Laliberte played sports at Stevenson High School, did well in school and cared about his friends and family, but during his sophomore year of college he began being hospitalized for a mysterious illness.  Unknown to his family and doctors, Laliberte had an addiction to prescription drugs and was being hospitalized for his withdrawal.  He would stay in the hospital until he received his fix, leave the hospital and repeat the cycle.  Laliberte continued this pattern until he died of an opioid/benzodiazepine overdose a few days after his final exams.

“As a mother who has had to bury her child that passed away as the result of an accidental drug overdose, this is both an exciting and very reflective time for me,” Laliberte’s mother Jody Daitchman said. “Alex was a beautiful boy with so much ahead of him and his life was cut short at the age of 20. The sadness that goes with the journey of grief over the last 7 years also has a bright side to it - this being as a result of hard work to fight for what needs to be done legally as a result of way too many overdoses and death because of this horrible disease. As a mother, this is a very proud moment for me and I am excited for those that get another chance at life.”

Lali’s Law, named to honor the memory of Laliberte, creates a competitive grant program that will help states increase access to naloxone.  The primary purpose of the grant is to fund state programs that allow pharmacists to distribute naloxone without a prescription.  Many states use these programs to allow local law enforcement officers to carry and use naloxone.  

“My little brother Alex died before he had the chance to seek help for his opioid dependency.  Naloxone could have saved his life if only we had known it even existed,” Laliberte’s sister Chelsea Laliberte said. "Lali’s Law will increase access to this lifesaving medication, which is so important because no one deserves to die from a drug overdose and everyone deserves access to care. In Alex's memory, we hope to see a country with far less tragic stories like Alex's and far more chances to recover.”

Reps. Dold and Clark are both members of the Congressional Bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic.